Some people think having a purpose has to be some type of grand thing like saving the world or inventing something that’ll change the future. But having a purpose can be attached to our everyday living and for your elderly loved one, having that sense of purpose is just as important as it is for the 30-year-old mother next door or the 40-year-old business executive down the street.
That purpose can be whatever your loved one chooses, from creating wonderful watercolors of the world around her, to serving in the nursery at her church, to baking cookies to bring to her local fire station. And while having a purpose often means doing something that’ll positively impact someone else, it can also have great health benefits for your elderly loved one. Let’s look at a few:
Slows Down Aging
Have we found the fountain of youth here? Not exactly, but having a purpose can help your aging loved one slow down the effects of aging on her body. Because purpose usually involves doing something, even if it’s just having her elder care provider bring her to the beach to clean up debris, it enlists the whole body and mind in its purpose. Seniors who feel like they have a purpose walk faster, respond quicker, and have better balance.
Encourages Better Health Habits
If your loved one feels she has a purpose, she’s more likely to take care of her health. She may ask her elder care provider to purchase more fresh fruit and vegetables because she wants to feel well enough to go serve each week at the local theater. She might go for more walks so she’ll have the stamina to keep up with the dogs she walks each day at the dog shelter.
Getting up each day, knowing she can make a difference or impact a life, will help your loved one’s brain to stay engaged and ready to go. Even if what she is doing seems fairly simple, her brain is busy working on what needs to be done before she goes, what needs to be done once she’s there, and what time to tell her elder care provider to pick her up. All of these are mini-exercises for the brain, which will help with memory and other cognitive functions.
Provides Better Heart Health
Feeling like she makes a difference can help your loved one reduce her stress levels and stave off depression and anxiety, all of which can put undue stress on the heart. Working toward a goal and seeing the benefits of helping others can increase a body’s production of endorphins, which help your senior feel better and provides her body with the energy needed to fight off stress hormones that damage the heart and blood vessels.
If your loved one doesn’t feel like she has a purpose right now, help her find one so that she can enjoy the many health benefits that come along with being needed and appreciated.